Comments on the Beretta A300
I stumbled across some shotgun reviews you did on YouTube and I thoroughly enjoyed them, especially your reviews on the Remington V3 and the Fabarm Waterfowler. Very informative.
currently own a Beretta a300 and long story short, it is complete
garbage IMO. Barrel is way too tight, kicks like a mule using 1 1/4
steel loads, has cycling issues even with heavy loads, is a pain to
disassemble and clean and Beretta is hands down the worst at
customer service. People say "Beretta" and you immediately
think the gun will be first rate but I doubt I will ever own
any rate, I am in the market for a new waterfowl gun and I wanted to
know if you still think the V3 is a solid choice as the review I saw
was from pre production models. There is a lot of information out
there about this gun or that gun being the best depending on who you
ask and what kind of skin they have in the game. Too many Benelli
fan boys as well to get an honest answer.
I really have my eye on the Fabarm but I cannot find one anywhere to shoulder/shoot but I assume you are high on them as well?
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Yes, unfortunately (as far as I'm concerned) Beretta hit their peak with the A303 models (and the related Browning B-80), and then the A390 which was their first “shoots everything” autoloader without changing barrels. Since then, they have cheapened up their line, not in price, but with sloppy welds, soft parts, cheap wood with fake finishes, and a variety of erratic sourced parts from apparently the cheapest sources possible. They can call it “technopolymer” all they want, but thermoplastic is still thermoplastic. The Beretta gas guns always have been a touch harsher shooting than the Browning “Active Valve” guns, but the A390 was and is a tougher, better built, more durable shotgun. Those days are gone.
The A300 is a big downgrade from the gun it displaced, the 3901, which was a cheaper A390 with sourced parts, sometimes a Turkish barrel. Some work, some don't: it is one of the most highly complained about shotguns from my readers, another example of "500 Years Unmarred by Progress." It is a very rough, poorly made, tragically ugly gun, backed by Beretta's renowned customer disservice. If you ignored the stamp on the barrel and compared the A300 side by side to the Weatherby SA-08, made in Turkey by ATA, anyone would quickly conclude that the SA-08 is a far better-made, better-machined shotgun. Yet, the SA-08 is only a $500 gun in black synthetic.
Fabarm USA has picked up the vacuum in machining quality and customer service. For example, if you shoot a case of shells through an XLR5 or an L4S (my favorite pheasant gun), when you unscrew the choke tube you'll find no crud or carbon on the inside of the choke tube: it looks like you never fired the gun. That's what close tolerance high-quality machining can do for you.
Another approach, like Browning's “Invector Double Seal Choke Tubes” are just a band-aid to cover up sloppy machining of barrel threads and choke tube threads. The polymer covered “Pulse Piston” on the L4S and the XLR5 Waterfowler acts as a wiper, so you don't get as much of the normal crud on the inside of the barrel's gas cylinder. There is no mainspring or mainspring tube in the buttstock of an L4S or a XLR5 either to break, bend, or collect crud.
There is a lot going on in a Fabarm, better factory chokes tubes and a better, crisper trigger right out of the box than you'll find on most autoloaders, along with the same expert gunsmiths that handle the Caesar Guerini line. My favorite of their hunting guns is the L4S, a 6-3/4 lb. walnut “do everything” type of shotgun. It is the bargain of the line, at $1275 MSRP for the L4S Initial Hunter, selling for a bit less street price. You might want to check them out at https://fabarmusa.com/l4s-hunter/ . The L4S Initial Hunter compares well with $1600 - $1800 shotguns from others.
Benelli has their following, actually I think they did a fine job with their new Super Black Eagle 3. The camo version of the SBE3 is $1999 MSRP. It is a bit salty for a plastic-stocked gun, but Benelli owners are used to that by now.
The Fabarm XLR5 Waterfowler retails for $1695. It was introduced last year and has been perpetually sold-out until recently. It has the “Long Rib” that has been popular in Fabarm XLR5 target models, and it is a mid-height rib of 10.4mm (.409 inch) that lets you have a comfortable, more heads-up type of shooting style. It does have a synthetic “Soft Touch” finish stock as well, that appeals to many waterfowl hunters. It has a comfy rubber comb insert along with the top of the rib that is left black, not camo, that gives a very crisp sighting reference point. It sounds like Fabarm has some new models they are going to release in a month or two as well, but I don't have any specifics as of yet.
Yes, the Remington V3 is quite a gun for the money, no question. The synthetic V3 came out last year, the walnut V3 was just released in January 2017. At the price points they are at, $730 or so street price for the camo or walnut models, they effortlessly destroy the Beretta A300 and everything else on the market for the money: it isn't even close. You'll laugh at the absence of recoil: that's how soft-shooting they are.
Back when I first spent $1000 for a shotgun, some thought I was crazy. Then, when I first spent $2000 on a shotgun, some had the same reaction. I've been losing ground ever since. A lot of this is personal preference, of course, for the gun that fits you just right and feels “just right” is an intensely personal decision. Few spend $2000 on a duck gun gladly, but many do anyway for compared to the cost of ammo, tags, travel, the cost of the gun itself is small and good guns don't wear out in a hunting lifetime. The guns that do wear out often suffer from neglect, not from hunting shots fired.
Fabarm USA is a decidedly an upscale line of firearms. It isn't a line of guns you'll normally find at Wally World or big box stores. Fabarm / Caesar Guerini is a quite substantial company, though, the second largest shotgun manufacturer in Italy. Their Italian heritage is something they take seriously, for you'll see “100% Made in Italy” inscribed on their guns. Part of the confusion stems from Turkish guns, imported into Italy, run through the Italian Proof House, and then sold as “Made in Italy.” Fabarm makes it clear that it is not the case at all with their products.
The Fabarm / Caesar Guerini presence in the United States is substantial, surrounding their success in competition guns: they set up at most of the major shoots. They have their dealer locator on their website, but if you give them a call they are quite accommodating at locating the gun that piques your interest for you.
Thanks for writing, Matt, and happy hunting to you.
Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.